Blanche Parry

Blanche Parry & Lady Troy

by Ruth E. Richardson

Summary of Talk given at Bromyard & District Local History Society, Wednesday 8th April 2009.

Published originally online at

Apart from her two epitaphs, in Bacton Church Herefordshire and St. Margaret's Church Westminster, little was known about Blanche Parry and few books even referred to her. However, during eight years of research Ruth was able discover far more evidence than she expected, with one document leading to another, these being excellently transcribed by Sue Hubbard. Then Ruth found a source that had never before been used. These are manuscript poems, composed and sung by Welsh bards, each with a circuit of gentry houses where they were welcomed as honoured guests. These included Raglan Castle, home of Sir William Herbert, 1st Earl of Pembroke of the 1st creation, and Newcourt where Blanche Parry was born. Nine of these bardic poems concern Blanche's family and one of these, by Guto'r Glyn, actually gives Blanche's paternal family tree. Another describes the royal career of Blanche's aunt, Lady Troy. These poems are a gold-mine for researchers.

Blanche Parry was born 1507/8, possibly educated at Aconbury Priory, and died, in our dating system, in February 1590 aged 82 years. Her father, Henry Myles, was the son of Miles ap Harri and Joan Stradling the sister of the Earl of Pembroke. (The Earl's and Joan's maternal grandmother was the daughter of Davy Gam mentioned by William Shakespeare in Henry V.) Blanche's mother, Alice, was the eldest of eleven surviving daughters and heiresses of Simon Milborne, a cousin of Anne (Devereux) Countess of Pembroke. One of Alice's sisters was Blanche, who married firstly James Whitney (their grand-daughter would marry Lord Hunsdon) and then Sir William Herbert of Troy, an illegitimate son of the Earl of Pembroke. Lady Troy and Sir William welcomed King Henry VII to their house but she was again a widow when she became the guardian... of Henry VIII's children. Her elegy makes it clear that it was Lady Troy, a charming and gentle lady, who actually brought up the Tudor children, the future Elizabeth I and Edward VI, and gave them a stable and happy childhood. She was their Lady Mistress. When she retired from Court Elizabeth sent her a pension.

Blanche Parry first came to the Royal Court in the service of Lady Troy, and was constantly with Elizabeth for fifty-six years from her birth until Blanche's death. She was the cousin and friend of Sir William Cecil, Lord Burghley who helped her formulate her Wills and advised her on legal matters; for one case Blanche commissioned the first map of Llangorse Lake. Everyone at the time recognized Blanche's pre-eminent position. She was the Chief Gentlewoman of Queen Elizabeth I's Privy Chamber and Keeper of Her Majesty's Jewels and the Queen treated her as a baroness. Blanche's responsibilities were varied. She was a conduit for passing information to the

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